Addressing The Imperfections In Your Relationship

How many times have you heard the phrase: “No one is perfect”? We all say it; both to ourselves and to other people yet when we’re confronted with the inevitable imperfections of our partners, we often want to run the other way.

During the honeymoon period we only see our partner’s strengths and tend to overlook their weaknesses. We think we’ve found the perfect soul mate and then reality sets in and we discover the person is just as human as the rest of us. For some people, that may take a few weeks, for others a few months and for some, it might take a few years. Eventually though, we all discover that our partner is just like everyone else and does and says things that anger or irritate us.

My husband says things that make my roll my eyes and he watches endless hours of sitcoms, none of which interest me. He also tends to be quite anal around a lot of things. There have been times when I’ve focused on these things to the point where I couldn’t see the light in him. I allowed all his strengths to be obliterated by the things that bothered me.

One day I decided to use a pie as a visual of our relationship. Let’s say there are eight parts. When I looked at it that way, I realized that six of the eight parts work really well so why don’t I focus on those things instead of the two parts that don’t work? I started looking at the things I value the most and realized we are very much aligned around our basic values. I started writing down those things about him and our relationship that I was grateful for. I noticed by doing that, those things we both value and the things I appreciate about him, became bigger.

My husband and I have been together nearly 30 years and when I look back at the silly things we argued about in the early years, they were truly not important. There are things that are important to address, for the health of the relationship and there are other things that are simply not worth bringing up. Do I really need to make a point of telling my husband how inane a show is, that he likes? Is he harming anyone by watching it? No. Do I want to be reminded of some of my quirks and bad habits? No.

So how do you address the imperfections in your relationship? Unless they are obvious deal breakers, and you know the ones I’m talking about, for the most part it’s best to take your focus away from the imperfections and towards what you like and appreciate. Make a point of saying out loud what you like about your partner. Remind her or him what she or he is good at. Also, don’t be afraid to express what you need. Just be sure you say it with kindness. Demanding someone do something differently isn’t going to get you anywhere.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Relationship

Good relationships take work. I have witnessed many potential good relationships fail due too poor or ineffective communication, an inability to meet each other needs and by having unrealistic expectations of the relationship in general. The fact is, most of us don’t know always know the things we can do to improve our relationships. Contrary to popular belief, its not always how much love you have for each other that can predict the success of your relationship, but ultimately it comes down to how conflicts and disagreements are handled. Research has shown that couples who are effective in resolving conflict report being more fulfilled in their relationships and have less incidence of divorce. I will provide you some practical techniques that you can begin implementing today that will drastically improve the current state of your relationship.

Perception Vs. Reality

We have all heard the saying, “Every story has three sides, my side, your side and somewhere in the middle lays the truth”. The fact is several people can witnesses the very same event, yet all walk away with a different perception or interpretation of the facts. The same is true in relationships. We all interpret events through our own unique lens. The way we process information is based largely on our past experiences, environment and our own inherent genetic make-up. Believe it or not, this is one of the major reasons why many relationships fail, not just our relationships with our spouse or mate, but relationships with family, co-workers and friends can all succumb to inaccurate interpretations, inevitably causing the relationship to deteriorate. Failing to realize the impact of how ones perception can influence how events are interpreted and received can be the downfall of any relationship. For couples that struggle with this issue, it is important to always question, particularly when conflict arises, if they are being overly negative in interpreting their partner’s actions or motives, this can be done by searching for evidence that is contrary to the negative interpretation. Oftentimes when this is done, couples find that the stance they are choosing to take on a particular issue is based solely on their own internal dialogue and really has nothing to do with their partner.

Search for the positive

If I were to ask you right now to list 10 positive traits about yourself, it would probably take you a while to come up with some things; however, if I were to ask you to list 10 negative traits or qualities, you could probably come up with them in 10 seconds flat. Unfortunately, it is human nature to focus more on what is not working in our lives than to focus on what is going well. The same holds true in our relationships; however, if you make a point to focus more on the positive aspects of your relationship and less on the negative, you may find that things aren’t so bad after all. You may begin to view your relationship in a more positive regard, which will directly affect how you relate to your partner and how your partner relates to you.

Scorekeeping is for games, not for relationships

Keeping score is a surefire way to kill your relationship. Harboring bad feelings and holding onto things in the past will ultimately destroy your relationship if you don’t do something about it. Relationships are filled with both good and bad times, when the bad times occur, you and your partner must be committed to resolving conflict in healthy ways by ensuring that both partners feel that their voice is being heard and that each of you are valued in the relationship for you own unique strengths. Scorekeepers may find themselves winning the fight, but losing the relationship.

Self-esteem and Self worth comes from within

We all know of someone or have heard of someone who has made a decision to start or continue in a relationship because of what the other person has to offer; money, prestige, fame, etc. It is important to note, that because your partner has those things, doesn’t necessarily mean you will be happy. It is foolish to believe that your mate is the only source of your happiness and that the only way to feel complete is to be in a relationship or base your relationship solely on what your partner has. Sure having someone to love and to share your life with can lead to a happier or more fulfilled life, but lets be clear about one thing, it cannot be the only thing that makes your life complete. The healthiest relationships exist when both partners feel whole even before the relationship begins. If you are dependent on your mate to fulfill your every need, you may be setting yourself and your relationship up to fail. The role of your mate is to compliment you, not make you. Self-fulfillment and self-esteem comes from within through personal acceptance, personal strength and self-love. If self-esteem is something you are struggling with, you need to first identify the source of your emptiness and develop a plan to begin to change the way you feel about yourself. The fact is, it doesn’t matter how many ways or how many times your mate expresses his love, you will be incapable of receiving it until the internal work is done. An excellent book on self-esteem that I highly recommend is “Ten Days to Self-Esteem” by David Burns.

State your needs clearly and concise

Don’t expect for your mate to be able to read your mind. As a couple, you need to openly discuss your thoughts, feelings and concerns. If there is something you need or want from your partner, state it in clear and concise terms. You can’t hold your mate accountable for something he/she is not aware of.

Avoid put down

We have all heard the saying “Fight Fair”; this also applies to how you communicate with your partner. When arguing with you partner, it is important to allow him/her to leave the argument with their dignity and self-respect still intact. Name calling and character assai nations, as I like to call it, will poison a relationship and lead to resentment and hurt feelings. Augments and disagreements are a normal part of any relationship and the purpose is to help couples resolve differences and to reach new levels of understanding. The goal of an augment is not to always to win, as Dr. Phil puts it, If you win, then your partner loses which will ultimately lead to a lose/lose situation for the both of you.

In closing, maintaining a happy and healthy relationship can be hard-work. However, when you are able to reach a point in the relationship in which both partners feel validated, valued and successfully able to meet each other’s needs, the level of happiness and fulfillment a happy relationship can bring, is well worth it. If their are things you can do to improve your relationship, start today, you may be surprised at how far a little maintenance can go.

Empathy and our Relationships

Empathy allows us to form deeper more fulfilling emotional bonds with our loved ones. Empathy is the ability to feel and experience another’s emotions, moods or attitude within our own body, as though it were our own feelings and sensations. It’s much like compassion for another, only empathy takes understanding and compassion to a whole new level, giving you an actual physical experience in your own body. This is the ultimate act of love, mindfulness and complete surrender and can be very rewarding emotionally when you learn how to apply your innate empathic gifts to embrace the most important aspect of our lives, our personal connections with the ones you love.

Here are 5 easy steps to begin using empathy to enhance your relationships. Empathic relationships must be nurtured and understood in order to achieve the most from them.

1. Slow down and still your mind.

Your empathic sense is always available to you, but if you are distracted, you may not be receptive to its messages. Take a few moments each day to reflect on your relationships. Still your mind and focus on the positive things you are grateful for in your relationships. Concentrate on your loved ones special qualities and characteristics that bring you happiness. See your future relationship as having limitless potential, and opportunities for growth and understanding, making a solid connection impenetrable by any negative circumstance, event or obstacle.

2. Listen and Pay Attention

Empathy relies on the intelligence of the heart, teaches us mindfulness, and an understanding of the intricate connection we have to all living beings. Each time you respond to your intuitive empathic sense, you are reaching out to your loved ones and sending a message that you care. Listen carefully to what they are saying, even if you don’t agree, this will create a strong foundation allowing your loved ones to feel safe in coming to you with their concerns, ideas or thoughts without fear or judgments. Listen with an open understanding heart, show interest in what is being said to you, and immerse yourself in the special moment of your loved one sharing of their thoughts and feelings with you.

3. Feel and Let go

Allow yourself to feel the emotions that come to you. Honor your feelings; even if you are feeling vulnerable, this will lead to strength and a deeper understanding of your experience. When you learn to understand and respect your own emotions, you will then be able to decipher your feelings from your loved ones. At times an empath will confuse others feelings for their own, and will quickly become overwhelmed. When you learn to separate these from one another, it will become clearer in how to find solutions for yourself and those around you. Once you have honored your feelings, release them and let them go. Feel proud that you have faced your feelings and have overcome difficulty and allow yourself to move on. This exercise will help you to learn to forgive and be forgiven. Don’t dwell on past issues, deal with them as they come, feel them and let them go.

4. Express yourself

The most important thing you can do as empath is to give love where it is needed, either to yourself or another person. When you begin to share your emotions, thoughts and ideas with others you clear the channels, sending a loving frequency, to those around you. Your relationships will begin to heal, creating deeper commitments and the focus will turn to healing in an environment conducive for a healthier relationship. Tell your partner, children, family and friends how much you love and appreciate them. They will respond to your loving energy, bringing you closer than ever.

5. Accept unconditionally

Accept yourself and your loved ones unconditionally. Learn to realize that our faults are part of who we are, but not necessarily the essence of our being. Acceptance is a form of expressing love, as we all need a place we can exist and be our true selves. Share this special gift, with your self and those you love.

Delve deeper into your own emotions, make it a point to personally take responsibility for your self and watch the relationships around you respond to your transformation, and your relationships will begin to grow and prosper and reach their true divine potential.

Filling the Canteen of Relationship Resilience

Keeping the relationship canteen full is more than just accumulating friends and acquaintances. The relationship canteen is filled by the richness of those relationships and the connectedness created through the friendships and family.

It is said that a person with friends is never truly alone and when your resilience is tested a full relationship canteen is proof of that statement.

In my life I am fortunate to be blessed with a wonderful marriage. My wife, Laura, is intelligent, caring, compassionate, supportive and beautiful. She is a fantastic mother and my best friend. Laura is absolutely supportive of me in everything that I do. No only my disaster response work but my every day life, my beliefs (even when she disagrees with them), my dreams, my goals, and even my desires. Laura and I share a relationship that is special and in modern society increasingly rare.

Because I strive for physical preparedness both in body and in resources we maintain family preparedness in the same realms. We have a family plan in the event of an emergency and each of my children, as well as Laura, are well versed in every aspect of that plan. I know that I can count on Laura to keep the family safe no matter where I may go, what kind of disaster I respond to, what may befall them in my absence, or even in the event that I should never be able to return home.

When I must call upon my resilience, I have a full relationship canteen. Not only does my marital relationship contribute to this reserve, to this relationship resilience, but I have similar relationships with each of my four children and with my mother. What is more, even though my father is now deceased, my relationship with him remains a source of relationship resilience. I know that he is proud of me in the work that I do.

This limitless source of renewing strength ensures that I am able to endure and ultimately overcome any challenge ahead of me.

But again relationships are a two- edged sword when it comes to resilience.

Several years ago my younger daughter Tiffany suffered challenges of her own and I was away to assist in response and recovery for a declared national disaster. As a result of Tiffany’s hospitalization my resilience was seriously compromised.

I was conflicted.

I was physically strong and physically prepared. I had all of the equipment and resources I needed to perform my disaster response duties. But the challenges facing somebody who I cared about caused my relationship resilience to suffer significantly. Rather than being a source of strength my need and desire to be home caring for my daughter sapped my strength. I was no longer sipping from my canteen of resilience. I was gulping deeply. My 40,000-gallon bathtub had sprung a leak.

The fact that I could do nothing even if I were at her side did not make a difference in how badly her needs affected my resilience. The fact that I would not even be allowed to be at her side in the first week of her hospitalization did not change the impact of her needs on my resilience.

Relationships are a two-edged sword for resilience but this does not mean that we should limit our relationships based on their potential impact. Quite to the contrary it means that we should expand our relationships. Make them as deep and rich as possible and share in providing for the resilience of those of whom we care most deeply.